1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Elevator

The Tune-Up Tower has it’s dynamometer testing unit on the top floor. Cars come into the tower from ground floor track. To get up to the testing area the cars are lifted up by an elevator.

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Problem is, the elevator is often malfunctioning or not working at all. Fortunately, Mattel engineered these towers so well that getting them to work properly again requires little more than a thorough cleaning of a couple of parts.

The most critical part is the drive roller on the top of the elevator’s back side. It pops out on the gear side.

remove-roller

 

The grime and debris on the rubber roller have to be completely removed otherwise the belt will just slip.

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I find that a Mister Clean Magic Eraser does a great job.

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The second piece that needs cleaning is the plastic drive belt itself. Again I use a Magic Eraser to gently clean the dirt and stains away.

cleaning-belt

If cleaning the drive roller and the drive belt doesn’t get your elevator working right…take it apart and clean them again. Usually the drive roller is the problem at this point. Every time my cleaning got the drive roller back to showroom condition, the elevator functioned like it was suppose to.

Here’s my YouTube video to walk you through some of my elevator fixes.

So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower with properly functioning elevator. Now we’re ready to make Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.

Box art - front. Close-up. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – front. Close-up. Courtesy eBay.

tut-elevator

 

1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Treadmill

A great way to tune hi-performance cars is to put them on a dynamometer.

An engine dynamometer. Courtesy SuperFlow.

An engine dynamometer. Courtesy SuperFlow.

A 2 wheel drive dynamometer.

A 2 wheel drive dynamometer.

An all wheel drive dynamometer. Courtesy SuperFlow.

An all wheel drive dynamometer. Courtesy SuperFlow.

A tandem axle dynamometer.

A tandem axle dynamometer.

The Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower treadmill is the all-wheel drive type. Unfortunately, the treadmill often malfunctions.

The number one problem with the treadmill is slippery grime on the rubber roller of the drive shaft.

Grime on the rubber roller of the first Tune-Up Tower.

Grime on the rubber roller of the first Tune-Up Tower.

A complete mess for the second Tune-Up Tower.

A complete mess for the second Tune-Up Tower.

The number two problem with the treadmill is a missing torsion spring to hold the roller in place that drives the treadmill.

Here’s my YouTube video on how to disassemble, clean and repair the treadmill on a Tune-Up Tower.

So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower treadmill. Getting it to work is another step in making Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.

A Datsun 240Z on the treadmill.

A Datsun 240Z on the treadmill.

1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Dyno-Meter Head Unit

Now that we’ve got the main motor running, it’s time to start looking at the treadmill apparatus. First up is the Dyno-Meter head unit.

TUTHU1

This unit contains the blue needles that mark out the Wheel Speed and Wheel Drift on the Dyno-Meter panel. It also consists of the orange arms that hold the car on the treadmill.

What’s the most common problem with these needles and arms? Some ham fisted kid back in the early 70’s decided to see how far he could bend them.

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The Wheel Drift needle is bent forward.

The nearest arm is bent up and in.

The nearest orange arm is bent up and in.

Here’s my video on how to fix a wonky Dyno-Meter head unit.

So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower Dyno-Meter head unit fixed and ready to go.

Up next, how to get the treadmill running so we can keep Hot Wheels cars still fast. Still fun.

Tune-Up Tower box art - front. Close-up. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower box art – front. Close-up. Courtesy eBay.

1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Motor

Usually, the first thing that doesn’t work right on an old Tune-Up Tower is the motor. The motor is housed on the top floor and lives right under the white toggle switches.

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The electric motors that Mattel used in the early Hot Wheels line-up powered Super-Chargers and Tune-Up Towers. They were all made in Japan. In my experience, these motors are pretty much bullet proof.

2 way Super-Charger motor. Front view

2 way Super-Charger motor. Front view

2 Way Super-Charger motor.

2 way Super-Charger motor. Back view

When I get one that doesn’t run, more than 90% of the time it’s not the motor that’s at fault, it’s typically a bad electrical contact that’s the problem.

And the number one cause of bad electrical contacts in Super-Chargers and Tune-Up Towers? Corrosion on the battery terminal posts. Although a slow leak from alkaline batteries left in the battery compartment will produce a white calcium carbonate build up on the negative side of the battery, by far the biggest issue is copper tarnishing. Copper begins to oxidize when exposed to air. Basically, refined copper metal will automatically return to it’s more natural state which is an “ore”.

Here are 3 questions:

  1. How do you access the metal contacts on a Tune-Up Tower?
  2. How do you go from tarnished
    Tarnished copper.

    Tarnished copper.

    to golden?

    Cleaned and ready to conduct electricity again.

    Cleaned and ready to conduct electricity again.

    3. Will the toggle switches and motor work again?

Find out what happened on my YouTube video.

Next up: I begin work on the treadmill apparatus.

The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower. It makes Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.

1970 Collectors' Catalogue.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue.

1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Introduction

When they first rolled out, Hot Wheels were billed as the Fastest Metal Cars in the World. How right Mattel was. As kids, we loved the speed and would run our cars as hard as we could all day long. The result, more than a few of our vehicles ended up looking like this.

Well used '68 Custom Corvette.

Well used ’68 Custom Corvette.

All that wear and tear meant the axles got bent and the wheel bearings filled up with dust and debris. The result? Our blazing fast Hot Wheels cars began slowing down.

Thankfully, Mattel provided a solution for us in 1970. The Tune Up Tower allowed us to test our cars for drift and wheel speed.

Tune-Up Tower box art - front. Courtesy eBay

Tune-Up Tower box art – front. Courtesy eBay

Axles could be adjusted with a Tune-Up Wrench.

tool

Tune-Up Tower box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower box art - back. Courtesy eBay

Tune-Up Tower box art – back. Courtesy eBay

Tune-Up Tower decals. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower decals. Courtesy eBay.

Here are the instructions for the Tune-Up Tower.

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 1

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 1

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 2

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 2

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 3

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 3

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 4

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 4

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 5

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 5

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 6

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 6

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 7

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 7

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 8 showing the Road Trials Set layout.

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 8 showing the Road Trials Set layout.

The problem with most Tune-Up Towers today is they are used, missing parts and in need of repair. I have several Tune-Up Towers and none of them work properly.

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So, I am going to explore the inner workings of these machines and see if I can get some of them to work like they did in 1970. That way, when my ’68 Custom Corvette gets towed in…

Tow Jam towing the '68 Custom Corvette.

Tow Jam towing the ’68 Custom Corvette.

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…I can go to work on that grand, old car.

The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower; making Hot Wheels still fast, still fun.

TUT catalog

1970 Hot Wheels Collectors’ Catalog. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Original packing. Courtesy eBay.

Original packing. Courtesy eBay.

Original packaged small piece contents. Courtesy eBay.

Original packaged small piece contents. Courtesy eBay.

Close up of original Twin Mill. Courtesy eBay.

Close up of original Twin Mill. Courtesy eBay.

Hot Wheels art by Alex Toth

One of the remarkable features from the early years of Hot Wheels is the artwork. Great car designs came from Harry Bradley, Ira Gilford and Larry Wood. Amazing package art was handled by Otto Kuni. But when it came to classic comic images with story telling, Mattel’s go-to-guy was Alex Toth.

Self portrait of Alex Toth.

Self portrait of Alex Toth.

Alexander Toth (June 25, 1928 – May 27, 2006) was an influential American cartoonist whose work began in the American comic book industry during the 1940s.  But he is also known for his animation designs with Hanna-Barbera throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His TV work included Super Friends, Space Ghost, The Herculoids and Birdman.

A book of Alex Toth's work featuring Space Ghost on the front cover.

A book of Alex Toth’s work featuring Space Ghost on the front cover.

For Mattel, he worked on the 1970 Hot Wheels comic book issues, the 1969 Saturday morning “Hot Wheels” cartoon series and all 4 Sunday newspaper cartoon ads from the summer of 1970.

Comic Books

The Hot Wheels comic book project began with this promotion.

Comic ad

A total of 6 issues were generated and Alex Toth was heavily involved in the first five.

Issue 1.

Issue 1. April 1970.

Issue 2

Issue 2. June 1970.

Issue 3

Issue 3. August 1970.

Issue 4.

Issue 4. October 1970.

Issue 5.

Issue 5. December 1970.

Issue 6.

Issue 6. February 1971.

My favorite as a kid was issue 2. Here’s part of the story line from that issue courtesy Captain Videos Secret Sanctum. http://captainvideossecretsanctum.blogspot.ca/2012_02_01_archive.html

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p014

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p015

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p016

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p017

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p018

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p019

Saturday Morning Cartoon

In the late 1960s there was one time, and one time only, for every kid to watch cartoons. That was every Saturday morning. The Hot Wheels cartoon show first arrived on September 6, 1969 and new shows continued to air through December 20, 1969.

Saturday cartoon

A total of 17 shows were produced (each 1/2 hour long), often with 2 episodes per show (a total of 32 episodes were made). This popular cartoon remained on the Saturday morning circuit for 2 years from September 6, 1969 to September 4, 1971.

Here’s a link to the cartoon’s introduction.

Here’s a show with 2 episodes: “Ardeth the Demon” and “Tough Cop”.

Sunday Newspaper Comic Ads

Back in the day, the Sunday newspaper “Funnies” always had the best comics. They were large. They were colorful. They told the fullest stories. As a kid, you spent the whole week looking forward to them. During the summer of 1970 Mattel took advantage of this enthused audience and ran a series of ads in comic strip form. I know of 4 ads. The first showed up on July 19th and the last on Aug 30th.

The story line always starts with 2 friends, the Hot Wheels Kids, at the track watching their automotive heroes in action. Either Dan Gurney or the duo of Tom McEwan & Don Prudhomme would be in a spectacular race.  But each episode took what transpired in the real world and then replicated it with a Hot Wheels set.  The kids demonstrated the ins and outs of their toy tracks much to the interest of Gurney, McEwan & Prudhomme.

Here are the 4 Sunday newspaper comic ads.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section. Mattel's Hot Wheels ad for the Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set. July 19, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section. Mattel’s Hot Wheels ad for the Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set. July 19, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday newspaper Comics section. Mattel's ad for the Sizzlers California/8 Race Set. August 16, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday newspaper Comics section. Mattel’s ad for the Sizzlers California/8 Race Set. August 16, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section from August 23, 1970. This ad is for Mattel's Road Trials Set featuring racing legend Dan Gurney.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section from August 23, 1970. This ad is for Mattel’s Road Trials Set featuring racing legend Dan Gurney.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section. Mattel's Hot Wheels Ad for drag racing with the Dual-Lane Rod Runner. August 30, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section. Mattel’s Hot Wheels Ad for drag racing with the Dual-Lane Rod Runner. August 30, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

So there you have it. The simply amazing artwork of Alex Toth for Hot Wheels. He certainly captured how Hot Wheels are “Still fast. Still fun”.

1970 Hot Wheels Indy 500 Race Set

May 29, 2016 marks the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Logo for the 100th Indy 500.

Logo for the 100th Indy 500.

Adding to this tradition is Hot Wheels. Back in 1970, Mattel issued the Indy Team pak.

Box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - back and side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back and side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

It featured a 4 car box set of Hot Wheels’ open wheel cars.

Indy Team 4

Three of these cars ran at Indianapolis including the red Lotus Turbine which almost won the 1968 race (fuel shaft broke on lap 191 while in the lead), an aqua Shelby Turbine which almost won the 1967 race (transmission bearing broke on lap 196 while in the lead) and a light green Indy Eagle. Although Brabham Repcos competed at Indianapolis, the blue F1 model shown here ran in Formula One.

Today I’m going racing, Indy style, with a dual-lane Rod Runner oval track. This layout has 32 feet of orange track, 10 joiners, 1 dual-lane Rod Runner, two 180 degree dual-lane curves, 2 white trestles and a dual-lane lap counter.

Indy parts

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With the dual-lane lap counter we can run 20 lap races.

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For this open wheel race I am running two Winning Formula cars.

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Here’s what happened with this Indy race.

So there you have it. A custom track. The 1970 Hot Wheels Indy Race Set.

It’s still fast. Still fun.

Box art - bottom. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – bottom. Courtesy eBay.

Logo for the 99th running of the Indy 500.

Logo for the 99th running of the Indy 500.